The horizon in June is as clear as a wail.
In isolation the self unspools
as much as it reaches for meaning:
e.g., the word solitude arrives
in 14th century Old French, via the Latin solitudo.
It implies being alone in a desolate place,
a desert, or a wilderness.
I’m unaroused by this image
but the French seul
borrows from sāwol, Germanic for soul.
My heart, in its smoky boudoir,
swells like a bladder. There’s no way
of knowing if this linguistic
kinship is real or imagined but I’m certain
of the divine velour of solitude
swathing me at day’s end (cypress trees gauzy
in the distance), the word’s
hardly necessary. Because of its silence
this balcony—as stage for my selfishness—
encases the white noise of my soul.
Weeks ago, incomprehensibly
alone in the waiting room of Huntington
Memorial, while mother’s brain
tumor was removed, I imagined
the clutter of the operating room, ripe
with activity. It disgusted me
to think of it, as the man beside me,
bulging and specific, had appalled me.
I collapse into myself.
This island is a cluttered room too,
café-lined with laughter.
I drive up the narrow dirt road.
I am a singular light source above
the cove. At the home’s threshold, I find it
too precious for what I intend to do.
Balcony scene, laptop-lit:
I jerk off unromantically to Str8 Marine
Below, the dark water goes.
PART OF IT
A feral cat, skittish yet curious, on the balcony this morning.
Feeding him cold cuts by hand
is strangely pleasurable, like being chosen for a dance.
Sunrise scene: horizon as blue scale
punctured by pastel provokes mild joy. Agnes Martin says,
If you get up in the morning, and you feel really happy,
and everything seems good, that’s without cause.
When the cat has finished with the meat he returns
to the field below. What Agnes means is
sometimes you just can’t help yourself.
There’s a slight excitement,
a faint image that survives briefly until supplanted
by another. It is a vagueness.
And also she means: sometimes you want to die.
The field below is now fully animated
(bright pastoral buzzing) and yet I am hardly part
of it. When I look out across the waves beneath the cliff
I have no desire to plunge into them.
YOUR OWN HYSTERIA
A poet I despise has won a prize.
Everything’s unchanged, in this wooden kitchen
in my filthy clothing (salted breeze through
the shutters) yet my personhood’s tendrils
extend immeasurably beyond me. I exist in the world by proxy.
Gunman Kills 4 Marines at Military Site
Pakistan Heatwave Kills 2,000
To know this is like floating in the cobbled sea,
suspended in the murky water.
If suffering is a puncture it points outward:
like a pronged apparatus, it emits as much as it receives,
its force whetted by the absence of locality.
In the hospital room, the nurse asked mother:
Show us where it hurts, she pointed to her own skull.
From one to ten how do you rate your pain?
In the corner of the room,
vased on the mantel, wildflowers deteriorate—
their tendrils glassy, languished.
How do you begin to remedy when pain
emanates as an aftershock? When a flower begins to die,
its stem loses water, causing cells to burst.
Eventually membranes disintegrate. This is wilting.
This is, for the flower, a catastrophe.
And yet, being aware of your own hysteria won’t diminish it.
Pain is a translation, a gradient of injustice.
The sunset before me is useless. Far away, on 14th Street,
my dentist drills into someone else’s open mouth.